From the 13th to 16th centuries Kutná Hora competed with Prague economically, culturally and politically. Since 1995 the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kutná Hora town began in 1142 with the settlement of the first Cistercian monastery in Bohemia, Sedlec Monastery, brought from the Imperial immediate Cistercian Waldsassen Abbey. By 1260 German miners began to mine for silver in the mountain region, which they named Kuttenberg, and which was part of the monastery property. Under Abbot Heidenreich the territory greatly advanced due to the silver mines which gained importance during the economic boom of the 13th century.
In 1300 King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia issued the new royal mining code Ius regale montanorum. This was a legal document that specified all administrative as well as technical terms and conditions necessary for the operation of mines. The city developed with great rapidity, and at the outbreak of the Hussite Wars in 1419 was the second most important city in Bohemia, after Prague, having become the favourite residence of several Bohemian kings. It was here that, on January 18, 1409, Wenceslaus IV signed the famous Decree of Kutná Hora, by which the Czech university nation was given three votes in the elections to the faculty of Prague University as against one for the three other nations.
In 1420 Emperor Sigismund made the city the base for his unsuccessful attack on the Taborites during the Hussite Wars, leading to the Battle of Kutná Hora. The city was taken by Jan Žižka, and after a temporary reconciliation of the warring parties was burned by the imperial troops in 1422, to prevent its falling again into the hands of the Taborites. Žižka nonetheless took the place, and under Bohemian auspices it awoke to a new period of prosperity.
Along with the rest of Bohemia, Kutná Hora passed to the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria in 1526. In 1546 the richest mine was hopelessly flooded; in the insurrection of Bohemia against Ferdinand I the city lost all its privileges; repeated visitations of the plague and the horrors of the Thirty Years' War completed its ruin. Half-hearted attempts after the peace to repair the ruined mines failed; the town became impoverished, and in 1770 was devastated by fire. The mines were abandoned at the end of the 18th century.
The city became part of Czechoslovakia after World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary. Kutná Hora was incorporated into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia by Nazi Germany in the period 1939–1945, but was restored to Czechoslovakia after World War II. The city became part of the Czech Republic in 1993 during the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
Among the most important buildings in the area are the Gothic, five-naved St. Barbara's Church, begun in 1388, and the Italian Court, formerly a royal residence and mint, which was built at the end of the 13th century. The Gothic Stone Haus, which since 1902 has served as a museum, contains one of the richest archives in the country. The Gothic St. James's Church, with its 86-metre tower, is another prominent building. Sedlec is the site of the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady and the famous Ossuary.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.